Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Magic, Mold and Markers

I really have no reason to blog today. No subject to talk about. Nothing to expound on.


I am still reeling from the stench of cleaning a disgusting, slimy, moldy, brown, black, gooey floor drain in the basement. While smelling the mouse pee wafting on the stale breeze in the basement. While stuffing 3 rotting mops (that sat too close to the fermenting drain) into a garbage pale with a cloud of flies swarming the air.

After pouring straight bleach on the drain and the floor near the vicinity of the drain and mentally complimenting my kids for their kindness to one another while I worked on such an awful job and thanking the Lord for such sweet children and thinking how wonderful it was going to be to have one of those "extra and unexpected jobs" done for the day.

Yeah, it was after all that, that I came upstairs for a few more cleaning supplies to find:

2 kids

A black magic marker

Art work


My hope chest. (the design resembled a gun. A very science fiction-post modern design.)

The white tray on Janae's doll high chair. (a 3-year-old's attempt at a star. It had about 6 cool points.)

A pale pink Little Tykes chair. (the design was similar to one of those activity book mazes and/or the way an electric stove's coil is shaped.)

Did you know they call it Permanent Black Magic Marker for a reason? I'm still trying to figure the magic part out because it was anything but magical. Definitely Permanent. Definitely Black. Definitely Markered. But definitely no Magic.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Directional Dialogue

In The Good Life state of Nebraska, I seem to be directionally deprived. I can take the winding, hilly, swampy, wooded roads of Wisconsin that make absolutely no sense (what's the difference between County Rd. S and County Rd. SS?) but when it comes to the square mile grid road system of Nebraska, I need a GPS and a compass and a cell phone.

Today was no different.

Toby asked me if I wanted to go out for supper tonight with him. That was not even a question in my book. But since he seemed to be waiting for an answer, I said yes. He said I'd have to pick him up from work. And since I'd be skipping the entire hassle of making supper just to pick my husband up from work, no big deal, right?


There are two things Toby and I do not agree on or see eye to eye on.

Number 1: (we have the next 60 years to figure out what this one is.)

Number 2: Directions.

We just don't agree on directions. When he gives me driving directions, they make no sense. When I tell him that he is not making sense, he doesn't agree with me.

I asked him for the directions to his work site today. Suddenly, peeling potatoes and making fresh french bread and stuffing a chicken seemed so much easier than they normally do.

He told me he was working in Bennett. And, thanks to http://www.craigslist.com/, I know where Bennett is. Our backyard fire pit comes from Bennett, NE.

So, if he is working in Bennett, this should be easy, right? Wrong.

"The road that goes through Bennett, take that straight south out of town," he said.

Okay, that was a mistake right there. We have no compass in our van. I do not know which direction south-out-of-Bennett is.

"Would that be hwy 2?" I asked him, trying to verify the correct road.

"No," he said. "Here's what you do..." he began his directions. "Take Hwy 77 to Roka Road which it actually has an exit off the highway. Take that road until it "t's" -- it should be just a short way down. Turn right and then turn left on that road and go six or seven miles. Then there's a high way -- we're not sure if it's 43 or 143 but it's a paved road and you turn east there. Your goal is to keep going east. There's a road... uh... 148th street and the highway is a mile past there. Just stay on the paved road. Watch for the Douglas sign which will tell you to turn left but turn right towards Stagecoach. The house number is xxxxx -- which actually honey, if you look up Google maps, you can see a picture of the guy's house."

"Um, yeah.... uh, okay, uh, well...ummmm..." I said, trying to decipher the ink I had just transcribed from the telephone onto a piece of paper.

"That's it. That's how you get here," he told me, as if that clarified everything on my scribbled piece of paper.

"Okay, so when I turn off hwy 77," I began the direction re-run, "Which way do I turn?"

"The road "t's" a short way down and you turn right there," he replied, completely not answering my question.

I tried again, "Yeah, but off of Hwy 77, which way do I t...."

He cut me off and answered, "Oh, you go east there -- you want to keep going east."

"Yeah, but east is which direction?" I needed clarification.

"Uh, that would be left, honey," he answered, in a tone that said I should know that already.

"Okay so then after I turn on Roka road and I go left, the road t's and I turn right, which road am I turning on when I turn left again and how far down is that?" I asked, trying to make as much understandable sense as I could.

"Well, you just stay on Roka road and follow that," was his answer.

"So that road I turn left on shortly after the Roka road "t's" is actually Roka road again?" I clarified.

"Yeah, I think so. Something like that. It's like a quarter-of-a-mile or a half-a-mile down that road before you turn left," he answered.

(Meanwhile I'm creating a mental image in my head trying to get a aerial view of the road system at this intersection.)

"Okay, gotcha," I responded.

"Now this highway," I began into another chapter of this complicated directional dialogue, "is it highway 43 or highway 143 or highway 148?"

"I. Don't. Know. Honey," he answered, enunciating every word.

"Okay so then where does this 148 number come in?" I asked, wondering if this was another one of his land marks.

"The Unknown Highway is a mile past 148th street," he explained. "Just stay on the paved roads," he repeated again.

And then I remembered that when Toby gives directions, he uses more land marks than street intersections. He uses land marks found 2 miles down the road behind a paint peeling barn sitting on a rusty tractor. He uses houses 3 blocks over to give you a reference point to the house he is working on that day. He uses everything as landmarks. And he always says north, south east and west instead of left or right..."That tractor west of the barn is facing south of where the house on the east side of the street sits."

I looked again at my directions, trying to make sense of them.

"You know honey," Toby began, "If you would just write it down as I tell you, then you'd have the directions." (as if I hadn't thought of that already...)

I almost choked. "Uh, honey? I write them down completely as you tell me but that doesn't help at all... believe me."

As I hung up, I was trying to figure out what Bennett Nebraska had to do with this job site since it was never mentioned in the directions and how much driving time should be allowed to get to this place and how would I know if I was on the right road that he had no name for but I was supposed to drive it for 6-7 miles. I noticed the screen on my phone and saw that it took him 10 minutes to tell me how to get to this place and I still had no clue how to get there.

And then I decided that since we agree on pretty much everything besides directions, I would do my part and eliminate that one thing. Of course I can't technically agree with him on this because if I don't understand how to get to a place he is directing me to, no amount of agreeableness will get me to his job site, unfortunately.

I'll eliminate the problem altogether, I decided. I came up with two solutions:

Number 1: Never go to the job site

Number 2: Get a GPS

Number 1 is really not an option. I mean, I am a loving wife, he is a loving husband. We like to see each other and spend time together like loving couples do. Especially if it involves eating supper out.

Now, if I get the GPS, I will not tell him I have it because I want him to still give me directions. I'll write them down, say, "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Okay perfect. Those directions are great. We should have no problem getting there. You are so smart honey" the whole way through his complicated directional dialogue.

So, yeah. This GPS will be an investment in our marriage. A tool to keep communication open. A program to unify our direction conversations. A practical system to keep us on the same road (pun). A time saving technique because he won't have to spend 10 minutes telling me how to get to a job site that will take probably only 20 minutes to drive. A way to help us understand each other better.

And we will never have to disagree again because there won't be anything to argue about since the GPS will be responsible for me getting lost. Not my charming, loving, smart husband who I trust with all my heart and who was so kind to take me on a date... if I can find him sitting on a roof out in the middle of a cornfield somewhere in Nebraska.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What Roofers Can't Do, Plumbers Can

We had this pipe in our basement. And it leaked more weeks than I wish to count for days. Dripping in our basement making a gigantic puddle causing some condensation, this pipe continued to drip. And drip. And drip. You know how pipes do that every once in awhile just to let a little pressure off because they're old?

Well, this pipe started dripping and like most pipes do, it continued dripping. For some reason, it is not a self correcting/sealing pipe.

So, considering the plumping expertise of the people that live in this house, we began utilizing an amazing feature. I mean seriously folks, I can't believe this plumbing repair option is not marketed yet. A person could really make a lot of money off advertising this, not to mention doing seminars, classes and home demonstrations.

What this Amazing Plumbing Repairs For Dummies involves is a strategically placed bucket that is positioned exactly in the precise angle and latitude and longitude of the impending drips coming from the invisible leak in the pipe. It takes quite a bit of concentration and investigating and calculating but once you do it a time or two, it is worth the effort.

My well experienced recommendation (and believe me, I have a lot of experience with this) would be to get several buckets and place them in the general vicinity of the drips. Although one bucket is better than none, several are better than one.

As mentioned already, this leak had been going on for several weeks a few days and the man of the house determined after some encouragement from his wife on his own that it was probably a good time to contact some professional help. AKA: plumber.

Of course, you can always hope that a leaky pipe will fix itself and I am pleased to say that we definitely gave this pipe time to heal his leak. We are such patient people, in fact, that we waited for a really long time. The Automated Reseal in the pipe just didn't happen.

Amazingly, the leak got worse. Instead of dumping the bucket a couple times a week, we were dumping it several times a day.

So the plumber came on Thursday and in no time flat, he has conquered the leaky pipe that was rotting the floor joists, growing mold up above it in the bathroom and sopping the basement floor with it's continual dripping.

Now, I hate to succumb to the "I told you so" mentality that often befalls those of us that "Told them so" but when "they" didn't listen and then it turns up that "I told you so" was right... well, the only thing you can say is, "I told you so."

What makes me refer to this is that prior to calling the plumber and prior to the plumber getting to our house and prior to finding mold in the bathroom, I had mentioned to the man of the house that perhaps he should just double check and make sure this wasn't a homeowner repair job. Toby had already decided on that and thought it would be wise to personally investigate the leak because you know how a person hates to pay an unnecessary plumbing bill, right?

My dear, brave husband checked it out one day and diagnosed the problem as an Overspilling Copper Dilemma (OCD). Considering he does not have the tools for OCD (such as a torch and other copper repairing tools), he deemed the plumber invasion a wise idea.

"You know how I am with plumbing, honey," he said. To which I calculated in my head: Toby + Plumbing = Disaster. This mental picture had built so vividly above my head that Toby could see it too so I had to immediately delete that explicit picture and say, "Leaky Roofs + Toby = Paradise." He breathed a sigh of relief to know that I am still the cheerleader for the team he's on.

Bob the Plumber is a really nice guy. He really is. Once he took pity on me and our snake filled yard and he told me how he had hit a snake with his own lawn mower and never had snakes in his yard again. I took his advice. It worked. This guy knows his stuff. And Thursday was no exception.

He had a truck full of copper fittings and copper pipes and copper this and copper that so he was ready. Entering the house armed with a flashlight, he went right downstairs to the problem. Within no time, he was upstairs and in the bathroom.

His diagnosis?

Well, you know that pipe-tube-thingy that attaches your toilet to the water supply right behind the toilet? Yeah, go look in your bathroom and you'll see what I mean. That gray/silver (depending on the year it was made) pipe-tube-thingy had malfunctioned. So as the water entered the toilet, some of it slipped out and ran down the OUTSIDE of the tube-pipe-thingy and followed down through the narrow hole in the floor drilled just for accommodating that tube-pipe-thingy and then it dripped downstairs into our Bucket Invention right past that OCD copper pipe.

The repair plan?

Unscrew the tube-pipe-thingy
Toss in bathroom trash can
Screw in new tube-pipe-thingy
And then empty that bucket in the basement one last time.

I looked at Toby and smirked smiled gleefully lovingly but didn't say a thing. I could tell what he was thinking.

The mold is gone. The basement is dry. The pipe-tube-thingy gleams a bright shiny silver behind the toilet. So pretty. It feels good to have such a modern upgrade in our old house.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Week Gone A-Wry

So it wasn't exactly the most productive week of my life, but by Friday, at least we had all 50 toes and 50 fingers accounted for before the next week began.

And that's saying a lot. If you would've been hanging around the place and getting a full scoop of what happened, you'd be checking on your fingers too.

First off on Monday, we ha----- no wait. Let's start on Sunday...

While away on leave for Britt's wedding, I got the word that I am the new teacher for my new Sunday School class. And what that means is that I have to count the students ladies in my class, tally the offering and then start the lesson. Not a huge deal at all -- it's not like I have to stand behind a podium and give a chalk talk or anything. Teaching that first Sunday's lesson I actually enjoyed. A lot. I think I tend to talk way too much to not enjoy something like this.

The only time this designated responsibility may become a difficult thing is when one of the kids wakes up sick Sunday morning, the dog runs away, the van won't start and I can't find my Sunday School book 5 minutes before class starts. Other than that, I think it'll be okay for at least a year.

Like we always do on Sunday afternoons, we enjoyed nap time. Well, Janae and Alex enjoyed nap time; I attempted to enjoy it while Landon attempted to not enjoy it. Let's just say I had a pretty disturbing nap.

Monday came like it usually does after Sunday and what did we find but rain! rain! and more rain! That automatically entitles Dad to a day of bookwork in the basement while the green grass outside grows greener. After a full day of putting in a pretty big quota of bookwork, I dragged the half-decomposed-man up from the basement where he had practically fermented and we went on a nice family walk.

So, not much exciting has happened in the week so far. Wait till you hear about Tuesday...

Okay, so Tuesday comes and before I was even out of my early morning bed, I learn the dreadful news that my dear loving husband is SICK! With the flu. As he dresses for work and heads out the door I strongly suggest lovingly imply that perhaps today would be a good day to take advantage of those sick days he never uses when he's sick and call the boss and tell him he thinks that this time he may just have a rare and infectious disease and should perhaps stay home so as not to start an epidemic or anything.

I have a few strong feelings about Toby's boss and my conclusion is that the guy must be a work-a-holic who drives his workers to near fatality. Why? Because Toby rarely calls in sick. Oh wait... I guess he is the boss. Well, never mind on that theory then.

So, he goes out the door with a can of toxic waste pop and leaves. Just like that. He's gone. I wave to my "in sickness" husband while I watch him wearily head to the work force.

About an hour later, I call him. You know, just to make sure he's still breathing and everything. I could hear the strain and pain in his voice when he weakly informed me in just a few words, "I'm coming home, honey."

I made every effort I could to not retaliate back, "I TOLD YOU SO," but the only thing I seemed to stifle was, well, I guess it all came out like that. (I wanted him to know that I'm always right that I was going to be glad to see him.)

He came home and though I made every effort to dote on him, he resisted all suggestions of health and wellness that I recommended and instead, went back down to the fermenting basement and had a pretty steady PC Diet. (Eat as much Pop and Candy while using the Personal Computer.)

Now folks, I should've put my foot down, really, I should've. But apart from nailing my foot to the floor, it just doesn't stay down. But, by Wednesday, my normally submissive spirit exploded into a fervent devotion to my husband's well being and I did just that: painfully nailed my foot to the floor.

He soon was happily stuffed full of vitamins and tea and everything else in the kitchen that I knew he'd hate eating that was supposed to help him feel better. By bedtime on Wednesday, he was feeling much better.

But, back to Wednesday... so I'm running around like a beheaded chicken trying to keep the kids in line, keep Toby alive and get my work done.

Alex was a bear. Janae was playing wedding. Landon was hunting in the backyard. Okay, now all three of those activities take a lot of focus on my part. And in the midst of all that, Alex got ink written on his face, Janae had ink circles on her arm, Landon found the scissors, and Janae's very own quilt that I made for her got cut in half.

I was pretty much beside myself with with feelings of anger and retaliation shock but I kept my feelings on my sleeve in check and made it quite clear that SCISSORS were off limit as well as FINGERS and QUILTS and anything that was designed to be used more than once. Basically, they can play with Styrofoam plates and empty toilet paper rolls.

So then on Thursday, Toby says he feels better and I am strangely looking forward to having a normal day again. While he gets ready to leave for work later in the day and not in the usual early morning (because the weather man called for rain all morning), I am moving around the house doing typical mom things. You know like making lunch, fixing my hair, finding a piece of wet-fruit-fly-covered-toilet-paper behind the toilet, cleaning the bathroom, noticing white fuzzy stuff on the bathroom wall, you know typical mom stuff...stuff? STUFF? growing on the bathroom wall? As in like fur stuff coming right up the wall?! What is going on? I thought this was America?

And then I remember that call someone (who's name I won't mention) made recently to the plumber. The Plumber that should've been here weeks before but he wasn't called until, well, like yesterday. (at a later time and a later date, I will perhaps delve into the details surrounding the leaky pipe.)

So then Friday and Saturday and Sunday roll around like they usually do on the weekend and with them came more rain. Thankfully, other than the rain, nothing was too eventful until Sunday night when Landon crawled in bed next to me with a bad stomach ache. A really bad stomach ache.

Deja vu? All over again...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Life Begins At Conception, or does it?

Ethical and moral issues are discussions most of us prefer to avoid. Morality and ethics have turned into "an-every-man-for-himself" kind of thing so it gives us greater reason to not step on toes when we promote or discourage certain issues. Especially when we have a faceless audience like blog readers. It is so much easier and more comfortable to keep silent.

But, I am using the vantage point I have here and breaking the status-quo of "every-man-for-himself" and taking it upon myself to speak the truth. I am really not concerned as to whether everyone that reads this will agree with me. Why? Because I believe that there is a tragedy happening day after day and I am doing nothing about it. Sometimes well meaning people just don't know the truth on matters that tend to be kept silent and I don't want to be guilty of keeping silent while knowing the truth about contraceptives and conception.

It may be shocking but there is a huge moral issue in many ultra-conservative people, the general public and lots of people in-be-tween. I'm not talking about people leaving their spouse to go sleep with another or about husbands having multiple wives. I am talking about moms destroying the life of their unborn. Whether it's at 9 days old or 9 months old, it doesn't matter. It's still a life. It's still a baby. And whether it's intentionally or unintentionally, it doesn't matter either.

Through research and discussions with medical doctors, I have learned the truth on something that is widely practiced but yet highly misunderstood.

First of all, the word "contraception" means that conception ALONE is stopped -- the egg is never fertilized. Stopping conception before it starts does not kill life. Hormonal Contraception (which it shouldn't be called anyway since it doesn't primarily impeded conception so therefore should not be called a contraceptive) has the ability and hormones of stopping the implantation of a fertilized egg(s) after it has been, unfortunately, conceived.

The bottom line is that life begins at conception and only God is the Giver and Taker of life. It doesn't matter if your doctor says a birth control is "safe" in supporting life or that a pill won't kill your baby; what your doctor doesn't tell you (unless you ask like I did) is this:

There are two basic kinds of hormonal birth control pills: (1) the combination pill which is made up of two synthetic hormones (estrogen and progestin) and (2) the progestin-only pill (sometimes called the minipill). The synthetic estrogen in the combination pill works to prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg. If no egg is released, there is nothing to be fertilized by sperm and the woman cannot get pregnant. In addition, the synthetic estrogen works by suppressing the body's normal hormonal pattern (which involves one egg being developed per menstrual cycle and released for possible fertilization).

The synthetic progestin (present in both types of pills) works to:

thicken the cervical mucus, which hinders the movement of sperm,

inhibit the egg's ability to travel through the fallopian tubes,

partially suppress the sperm's ability to unite with (and thereby fertilize) the egg, and

alter the uterine lining so (in the event that an egg is released and fertilized) the egg will likely not be able to implant into the uterine wall. (A fertilized egg would then be discharged with the rest of the menstrual blood.)

(found at GoAskAlice.com)

Not wanting to believe what "Alice" is informing in the above piece of research, I separately googled several different popular contraceptives commonly used and approved by the safety standards of the FDA and AMA and found her advice to be true for:

The Pill

The Mini Pill

The Nuva Ring

The Mirena IUD

The Patch

As you will find from the links above, the primary functions of all those methods is to prevent sperm from penetrating the cervix and to also disable ovulation. Now, these two functions are not moral and ethical issues -- human life is not being destroyed when contraception is used ONLY to impede conception. We all can hope that's all that is happening in each prevented pregnancy but the chance of that is highly unlikely and quite risky if you're banking a human life on it.

The fact that the lining of the mother's uterus is being changed to not accept a conceived egg is the function of these methods that makes hormone birth controls a non-option for a pro-life person. Why? Because life begins at conception.

To make the safest, warmest and most life sustaining place on earth for a new brand new life a habitation of destruction and rejection, is a tragedy. And worse yet, this tragedy is sitting in many Christian homes and churches today.

I have heard it said so many times by many well meaning people..."This new birth control method (insert name here) I'm using doesn't kill the baby; I asked my doctor and he said no!"

Of course your doctor is going to say no. A woman is unable to CARRY that pregnancy because the birth control her doctor gave her made it physically impossible to KEEP that baby that only had the chance to grow for short time. The baby is gone before the mother or the doctor even knew there was a conceived baby.

I found out myself when I asked my doctor and her doctoring partners. They all informed me in separate consultations that each birth control:

  • Kills sperm
  • Can effect the cycle, inhibiting ovulation
  • Is backed up by making the uterus lining thin therefore insusceptible to a fertilized egg

"So if life begins at conception and I believe that it does, than using a birth control that is not supporting a fertilized egg, is wrong?" I asked a doctor.

The doctor nodded her head and said, "Right... if you believe that then you'd have to accept that this is destroying a life."

For a very informative read, go here and find an in depth look at Contraception And The Christian and the captivating dialogue that takes place when conception occurs and how quickly it is destroyed when hormonal contraceptives are used.

"...If the fertilized egg is not allowed to implant in the uterus, it is being killed. The only difference between this and a later abortion is the size and stage of development of the tiny human offspring."

The writer also includes other information about birth control that does not kill a fertilized egg.

More Pro-Life information given by doctors can be found here. And here.


Disclaimer: I do not support or endorse other information that may be included on ALL the links above. Please do not abuse the links I listed to support a stand I am not endorsing through this post.

Friday, September 12, 2008

To Everything There is a Season...

Last night, I sat holding my breath at this computer, daring myself to look between the fingers that had been plastered to my whitened face.

I never knew that clicking "Save Changes" could so dramatically effect a person.

I almost felt tears well up inside somewhere when it fully dawned on my that the old look was gone. Forever. :'(

I breathed short, shallow breaths.

I felt my heart beat in hard, fast thumps.

Had I just lost all the 478 posts that I had written over the last three years?

Nope. They were all there.

But there was something else there too... It worked! The template transfer actually worked!

I found myself squealing hysterically at 11:00 at night and jumping up and down in my seat while Toby called to me from his lonely bed (which wasn't entirely lonely: he did have a computer with him) and wondered what I was doing.

Coeur d' Court had a new look and it was BROWN and PINK!!!! (and when I came back today, it was still Brown and Pink! Yay for html code that doesn't change in your sleep...)

So, for those of you that are scratching your head wondering what in the world the above jabbering is about, I know that you read my blog on Bloglines or some other blog alert thingy. The fact that you are scratching your head right now and the eyebrows on your forehead are screwed up funny, proves you are one of those blog lines blog readers. (this blog is under security camera use, by the way. Just kidding.)

I have a special invitation just for you savvy readers that use a blog update program. Yes, because YOU made the effort to put me in your blog lines, I am giving back to your great cause. Please accept my invitation just this once to personally visit my page directly and tell me what you think of this new look.

(Now, about www.bloglines.com .... I highly recommend such programs because A) they're easy to set up and B) you never have to visit any of your favorite blogs wondering if they've updated it or not: your blog program notifies you when you log into your account. A great and excellent and convenient time saver. Visit www.bloglines.com and set up your own account. Or use another program/website that someone else has recommended to you and see if I care that you didn't take my number ONE recommendation of www.bloglines.com. As long as you're saving time and spreading your metaphysical computer wings out a little more, I am pleased with your aspirations to blog savvyness whether you use www.bloglines.com or not.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What War is to Me

9-11 is here again and we all tend to think back to that day and What I Was Doing When The Towers Fell. Yet the consequence of what changed that day was not fully known until about 2 years later when a whole army of troops entered the war zone that our enemy came from.

I vividly remember that particular day, in March of 2003, because I had just celebrated the happiest day of my life: my wedding day, and I felt almost guilty that I could be enjoying such happiness and bliss while other wives were saying goodbye to husbands they'd never see again. It's almost sad to realize that every time we celebrate our wedding anniversary, our nation commemorates another kind of anniversary, The War on Terror.

Have you ever read the news and found an article about troops heading into Iraq or Afghanistan or North Korea or some place where bullets fly and bombs explode? I'm sure you have. You can find those articles anywhere and if you miss today's edition, tomorrow will likely have something new about the war anyway.

Did you ever think twice about it when you saw a line of soldiers ready to take off on their mission? Did you ever just think in the back of your mind that it was their choice; they chose to be on the battle field so "what's the big deal" and then quickly scanned the page for another article? Did you ever think twice about a soldier going to war?

If you're like me, probably not. Soldiers are made for war. Why act surprised or sad when you hear of a whole troop of them boarding a plane and heading to a war torn foreign country? We all know that's their job.

I used to not really think about it. I mean, I appreciated the fact that soldiers and military personnel were always on duty protecting my national freedom and life as I know it but I never felt very personal about news stories I'd read or hear. I would hear about the President sending more troops over and just assume he was getting the job done faster. I'd read about a soldier being killed and feel bad but then forget about him as soon as I turned the newspaper over. It was just the way things were and I was glad I didn't have to think about it.

But that all changed one day.

Now, every time I hear about more troops going over, more problems in the middle east, more battles being fought, my ears perk up. I think twice. My heart gets heavy and I look a little closer at the pictures of those men. I now realize that each soldier on the battlefield represents an entire family. A circle of friends. A unit of people. People that are praying for and worrying about that one soldier. A mother stays up nights praying for them. A father reads the news and hopes the critics aren't right in their prediction about the war. A wife fears for the safety of her husband that she won't see for another 10 months, at least.

I never really thought much about the news reports that would blast over the radio about another explosion in Baghdad. I mean, that seems to happen all the time there, right? But now, I won't be able to listen to a report like that without wondering who was killed and if I knew him.

And counting the days until he comes home.

And wishing that the newspaper would write more about the war and the facts that are happening constantly around the bunkers of that soldier I know.

War is hard. And war is real. But, when your little brother heads into it, you realize just how hard and real war really is. And how sad it makes your life.

But, yet how grateful you can feel knowing that your country's national freedom is being defended because your little brother is some place far from home where bullets fly. Where bombs explode. Where wrong is right.

And he's there in that battlefield, with that whole troop of brave men, so that you can stay free. So that your backyard is safe. You enjoy a grassy lawn while he disintegrates mine fields from one of those giant Humvee trucks. Because his dream is that someday that minefield will be a grassy slope. With carefree children playing freely without the danger of evil men producing death and destruction on their innocent lives. Children as innocent as mine will enjoy freedom someday too because someone brave made their home a safe place.

As if it wasn't already going to be bad enough having a loved one in a war zone, my loving and normally-laid-back-and-anti-trouble-causing-sister, went and fell in love and married a soldier scheduled to go over the same time our brother is. I now fully understand the seriousness of 'having all your eggs in one basket,' so to speak.

So, when most couples are enjoying the honeymoon phase of marriage, this couple will be parted because of the cost of freedom. A freedom I will never take for granted, ever again.

That's what war is to me.

Friday, September 05, 2008

All's Well That Ends Well If All Ends Well

Being home all day alone with my kids, really isn't that big of a deal. I mean, c'mon: it's my JOB. But, I usually tend to draw a line when it comes to being alone in the evening with the kids. Which is what happened recently.

Slated on schedule for the local jail ministry, Toby came home from work in time to grab a bite to eat, shower, say about 147 words to the kids and I (that is not very many words... trust me) and then he was off like a dirty sock to the county jail.

What was I supposed to do for 3 hours alone with his our kids? Yeah, I asked myself that a few times too.

First we went for a walk. But, on the walk, I felt guilty for leaving a foot of grass evenly standing in the front yard. Especially considering we just spent forty-some-bucks getting the lawn mower fixed not to mention that the grass had been mowed pre-wedding trip. (ie., 17 days ago.)

I debated mowing though; we have gone longer than 17 days between mowing's so was it a worthy investment to use a precious fuel propelled blade evenly across the yard? What about the budget? (what budget??? Toby is wondering as he reads this). What should I do with the kids while mowing? These questions and many other life altering questions stared me in the face as I trudged home with a kid loaded stroller and 3 wheeled bike strapped to my arm.

Entering the garage was my first insurmountable feat. Don't ask why but there's a stack of lumber in the garage designated for a certain house in our neighborhood. I guess the people are getting rooms built in their basement AND getting a remodeled kitchen. Lucky people! Why the lumber is in our garage is beyond me because we certainly have no need for new bedrooms and a kitchen.

Did I just say that?

Anyway, sitting in a nice neat stack of wood in our mouse laden garage is the future of my new kitchen and expanding finished basement. My dreamy eyes made it difficult to calculate the fact that I would in no way be able to cram the lawn mower between the wood and other garage paraphernalia so I did what most wise people crazy women do, I attempted to pick up the lawn mower. You know, just bend down, pick it up and carry it. Let's just say it was pretty heavy.

Plan B meant I had to go out the side door. But that didn't just mean open a door and push the mower out, end of story. It was a lot more complicated.

As I contemplated the brevity of mowing twelve inches of grass in our front yard, I was impressed to realize that my mind had the whole situation all calculated in my brain in the "Plan B Mow Yard" file. As complicated as that plan clearly was, it made me desperately want to scratch Plan B. So I tried a little harder with Plan A and literally tried to pick the mower up like I would pick up a laundry basket. That was just not an option.

Before I could open the door and push the mower out, Plan B style, I had to run into the house through the front door, charge through the house and out the back door, lock the dog in her kennel, open the twelve feet of side fence (which meant moving a basket ball hoop first), unlock the garage side door from the back-yard-side of the door, painstakingly shove the lawn mower precariously out the side door, perform a hair pin curve maneuver between the garage side door and through the narrow opening allowed by the 12 foot of now leaning green treated fencing and plow the mower down the driveway through the eight inches of fine gravel that some brainless person dumped in times past while my feet sank up to my knees past my shoe soles in the weighty, quick-sand-like gravel that was never intended for driveway use. Especially when you are alone with kids and attempting to mow with a push mower by yourself alone with the kids. (did I already say that?)

Anyway, primitive.

I mowed like a crazy person. Designing roads and alleys for the kids to run their dump trucks through was a blast. The grass was so high you could barely see their little heads bobbing up and down out in the middle of the yard, it embarrassed me. I knew their freshly mowed "roads" were well defined and they loved the exploration found in our little suburbia yard.

And I knew where they were the whole time; their squeals and screams of delight made it easy to keep an eye ear on them and did nothing to drown out the mower. My mower didn't hit any snakes (for once) and I patted myself on the back congratulating my decision to mow in the evening instead of the day time, thus avoiding the sunning snakes. The only thing to worry about were the huge crickets stampeding the yard. The blade got all wadded up with juicy cricket bodies and cricket guts were flying everywhere. Good fertilizer, I guess. That could explain why half way through, the self propelled mowing feature locked up. And we just payed part of that $40 to fix that. Must've been those crickets jamming things up inside the mower.

While Landon asked me deep, profound questions on who gets shot at jail when they're naughty, I worked hard on trimming the edge of the grass where the sod meets the sidewalk. That was a huge mess. A certain person I know (who's name I will not mention) has a deep infatuation with Roundup. He tends to use it pretty much where most people would use a Weed eater. We have an embarrassing yard uniquely designed edge all along our yard and it has turned a dead ugly brown an interesting color in about a fourteen inch strip all around the circumference of our yard. This was a one-of-a-kind display that I hope was a one-time-only application. You know, I'm all for personal individuality in landscaping and design but this was just a little too original.

Most people try NOT to have dead grass in their yard; this person attempts getting MORE dead grass in his yard. Most people spray FERTILIZER in their yard; this guy refuses to let his wife even WATER the yard let alone make it grow healthier with some hormone induced grass growing formula. Why? Because he hates mowing. He'll be the first to say it too -- just ask his wife or mother. Or you could ask the neighbors too; they know it pretty well... the poor souls they are having to put up with such an eye sore of a yard on their civilized street.

He hates mowing, like I said, and it's evident in the fact that his poor wife has no choice but to drag the kids out to the yard, strap the baby down in a safe place and then proceed to spray twelve inches of grass clippings and cricket guts all over their little plot in the universe while he the grass killing man reads the Bible to a law breaker.

But, after we got it all done, we celebrated with story time and popcorn. An innocent celebration, keen for peoples of all ages, but deceivingly dangerous I found.

While innocently retrieving an innocent mug from the innocent cupboard in which to innocently melt butter for the innocent popcorn (this was nothing illegal, folks), I did the most stupid thing inevitable: I smashed my face with the opening door. Like an innocent bystander with a clean record, I was punished for something I never did. I mean, yeah it was my hand swinging the door but what had my face done wrong to get a smack like that?

I learned the hard way that when you put your head close to the door, swing the door at your face at a very high speed and then lift your chin in order to peer up at the top shelf where the mugs are, you can result in hitting the left side of your right cheek bone. It leaves an immediate mark too, which is worth it so that the witnesses that didn't SEE what happened can know that you honestly did just crack your face open and you have proof of it for them to see now after the accident has taken place. Just try it and then look in the mirror quickly.

Landon saw the whole thing take place and calmly sat in his chair at the table watching me wishing he could have as much fun in the kitchen as I do impressed with my smart kitchen moves. The smart kid he is, he wisely asked me what I was doing. As if he couldn't tell that I was running around the house, banging my head on hard, wooden objects??! Such a fitting question, I mused in my fuming head that was pained by the sharp shooting pain caused by the violent door.

After popcorn evenly coated the dining room floor I had just vacuumed earlier that day, Toby came home. After he got the kids in bed and I was comfortably rubbing his feet, he wondered what I had occupied my time with while he was gone. Not wanting to think he didn't see the battle scarred face of his normally fair complected, loving wife and not wanting to believe that he could not decipher the smell of fresh cut grass I had arranged to greet him when he stepped out of the vehicle he had gone to jail in, I rubbed his feet pleasantly harder by taking all my aggravation out on his feet I navigated my eyeballs back to their sockets from where they had jumped from and vowed right then to invest in a whole barrel of Roundup.

Not wanting to discourage me when he heard me mumble something about mowing grass, he assured me he appreciated my effort but I should understand that in the dark he couldn't tell that I had mowed in the back behind the garage (!!!) because he came in the FRONT door.

"Honey, whoever said anything about behind the garage?" I asked him. Not waiting for his answer, I assured him... "Next time you mow, you won't have to worry about the front yard because I took care of that tonight."

He tried to look satisfied but I don't think he believed me until he went to work in the morning and saw for himself that yes, the crickets were dead the yard was mowed.

A Question Worth Asking

"What have I to do with thee,
thou Son of the Most High God?"

Monday, September 01, 2008

A Matron Of Honor Recounts THE Wedding

It was a lovely day for a wedding. Perfect weather. Perfect sun. Perfect temperature. It honestly could not have been any better.

After a short night of sleep the night before, 3 of us girls piled out of the same bed and the 4 other room mates got up as well. The nice thing about going to bed at 2am and showering just before you crawl in your bed is the fact that you don’t need a shower a mere 5 hours later when the alarm goes off. It’s like a glorified nap. We saved water and time that way although we did lose sleep using this sleep vs. shower method.

A short hour and 45 minutes later found a whole passle of smiling, giggling girls spilling out of the same hotel room and bustling down to a waiting, shiny limo. A couple of us weighed our options and opted for coffee instead of a limo ride. Yeah, that's how important coffee can be to a person: instead of taking your first limo ride ever, you’d settle for coffee instead. I almost felt foolish mature watching the gawking hotel guests drool over the our limo while I slipped into a blue Corolla instead and went to a drive through coffee shop. But, my priorities were in order and that's all that mattered.

Arriving at the church we immediately plugged in irons, set up ironing boards, began fixing hair and spraying perfume. I personally became heavily intoxicated with the cloud of hair spray and perfume and nail polish that filled the room we were in but hey, at least we all looked nice and smelled good too.

After getting my hair done, I began to prepare for putting on my dress. The Dress. That bridesmaid dress I had slaved over along with my kind sister-in-law who had finished it up for me and made it fit perfect.

As I went to get my hand picked undergarments that I needed before putting the dress on, I found that they were no where. I looked everywhere I knew I had put them and they were entirely missing. I ran out to the limo that had just arrived with the male wedding attendants and interrogated the driver about the location of my clothing. The petrified driver kindly assured me my clothes were not in the luggage area as he nervously dodged my flailing arms and threatening jabs while preparing to step back in his limo. I searched the church foyer, the car I had come over to the church in and ransacked all the luggage and duffel bags that were not my own. But, nothing turned up. The clothes were missing.

I called a family member still at the hotel asking them to please check the room my clothes were last in. The clothes were gone. I just knew they were probably sitting in the corner of an elevator or laying strewn on a parking lot somewhere getting black tire marks on my much lacy necessary “clothing.”

I was desperate and really needed to be dressed and practicing the piano instead of running around like a chicken with my head cut off in search of lingerie. I finally decided to just go to the bathroom and think. While in my perfume intoxicated state of mind and feeling dizzy from all the smells and lack of fresh air, I found in that hazy bathroom that the clothes I needed were already where they were supposed to be: on me. I was so relieved that the embarrassment of the whole ordeal did nothing to keep me from relieving the worried bride and my fellow bridesmaids that this matron of honor had indeed accounted for everything she needed for this day. I was met with scoffing laughter instead of sighs of relief.

And I don't understand why.

Anyway, now the dress. The Moment had come. I put it on, stepped out of the bathroom for inspection. I was met with yeah-it’s-okay-but-are-you-sure-you-can’t-tighten-your-bra-straps type of reaction. Not the type of response a maiden of honor expects. Or appreciates.

I decided to try on a different dress. So, I grabbed another one laying over the back of a chair. That one was too tight.

I slipped out one last time, hoping I hadn’t lost/gained too much weight over the course of time that had lapsed since my dress was sewn and grabbed the next dress I could find. Finally, it fit. I am making a mental note to personalize matching dresses I make from now on in order to save on time and the embarrassment of trying on every pink dress I could lay my hands on. Bare in mind that this is moving closely to about an hour before the beginning of the wedding and I still needed to practice the piano –before guests arrived—and do the finishing touches on myself.

I zipped into the still empty sanctuary and ran to the piano, relieved I was alone to practice the song assigned to me by the bride for her special day. I began to play and suddenly out of no where, people dressed in black began flashing lights at me, zooming in on my playing and taking in the piano from different angles. That was an excellent practice set up because it made me feel like I was seriously performing and definitely on display. It was realistically intimidating which was what I needed to live in the moment of performance without actually performing.

My fingers glided perfectly and as the damper peddle faded the song at the end, the photographer began to tell me how much he liked that song and the arrangement he heard and how he had it on his Ipod and perhaps I could listen to it later on that day. It was the inspiration I needed and appreciated but didn’t expect.

Doing the finishing touches on myself, opening bridal attendant gifts and then racing to the kitchen to get a bite to eat in order to help eliminate a sure tendency of fainting, I realized this was it. The groom was visiting with his attendants and looked out-of-the-ordinarily sober and serious. I felt an advantage on my sister (the bride) because I got to talk to the groom and see him on HER wedding day before she did. HA! Wait! That was the point… duh.

Teetering on the gold, pointy heeled sandals strapped to my feet, I attempted to gracefully flit around and make sure everything was in line that I was in charge of: flower girl, ring bearers, husband-of-the-matron-of-honor, etc. I found myself happily accepting the steady strong arm of the brother-of-the-bride who also happened to be my brother too. Those darling sandals were for looks, not for wearing. But, if you had a handsome soldier to escort you around, you knew exactly how Cinderella must’ve felt.

Helping the bride put on her beautiful gown, I couldn't believe the miracle that takes place in a girl when she becomes a bride in that one single moment. It’s a transformation. The point in time when she enters that portal between single hood and marriage. The radiant beauty the dress inspires in the girl that is now The Bride is heavenly. It was HER day. And she looked every bit of it too.

The moment came for us to line up in the order of our attendant positions. And then the tears of happiness came. I have never in my life had obvious tears on my eyes because I was happy. I was petrified my make-up would run and began receiving directions from all kinds of friendly people on how to dab one's eyes when you wear the kind of make-up you are not used to wearing. The rest of the people I was with told me to just quit crying because if I cried, then they would cry too. I felt so responsible in my out of character state of my mind and quickly controlled my tears. And that make-up.

The music started. The Grandmothers were seated. It was too late now to do anything else. Everything had to be ready. The first attendants entered the church. And then the next. And then the next and so on and so forth until it was my turn.

I stepped out on the white runner with my sparkly, tipsy sandals while taking hold of the strong arm of the attendant I was attending with. Thankfully, he had a much more substantial base than I had and it allowed me to thrive in the moment of dainty heels, shimmering dress, climaxing processional music and the fact that my sister was getting married. Immediately, I felt all the excitement and emotion of such a special day and my smile felt like my face would break. I was so happy.

I remembered back a few years when I walked down the same aisle on the arm of my father to the smiling groom waiting for me at the front of the church. I looked over to where that groom sat watching me and saw that same smile and that darling wink. I was so happy.

This was Brittney's day. The day she had waited for. Her groom had a very pleased smile on his face when we met eyes and I could tell he partook of the same joy I had for Britt only his was deeper. He had so much love for her in his eyes. This man that had won my sister's heart was worthy of her affection. He was so happy and I could see in his eyes what a million words could never say: she's all mine now and I will cherish her forever.

In a shower of pink petals and bright, giggly smiles, the flower girl and ring bearer put on a delightful show of sprinkling flowers down the aisle runner. They were perfect. I had no idea those children could possess such perfection. Anyone could tell they delighted in the participation they had in their Aunt Beemoo's day and the joy they had was evident in the pink cloud of petals they were all the way down the aisle.

And then the bride. She was beautiful. Her hair was perfect. Her dress sparkled like a ray of sunshine. Her smile, her confidence, her happiness, her composure, her love... all were as evident as the sun was outside. She didn't take her eyes off her groom the whole way down the aisle. She was radiant. This was the moment of her life and she celebrated every minute of it. I was so happy.

The ceremony, special music and vows were all perfect. Nothing went wrong. The first kiss was beautiful and the smiles and peace the couple had together was so inspiring to watch. They were definitely on a good start to a great marriage.

I never knew a day could be so perfect. But it was. And I was so happy but even happier that the happiness didn't end when the last notes of the recessional died down. A good marriage is sure to follow this happy wedding and I look forward to at last having a married sibling and settling down to life as young married couples together.

As hard as it is to believe, I have an idea I'm not half as happy as Andy and Britt are though. And for some reason, that makes me real happy.

I would post a picture from the wedding but due to previously committed-to requests, I was unable to photograph any part of the wedding. I guess that's part of being IN the wedding: you can't take pictures OF the wedding yourself. So, I captured it the best I could in words although I do realize that a single picture is worth a thousand words.